Koukounaries, Skiathos, Magnisia

NAUTICAL HISTORY

Skiathos... 2500 years of Nautical History

Skiathos has played an important role in shipbuilding and in naval tradition since antiquity. Skiathos joined both the first and second Athenian League and during the Athenian war against Philip II, Skiathos, according to Demosthenes, was used as a naval base.

After the Russo-Turkish Wars, Skiathos acquired the right to build small ships which were used for transport and trade with nearby places under the Ottoman flag. Lambros Katsonis and Nikotsaras recruited brave and experienced sailors from Skiathos.

When the town moved from the Kastro to its present location with its safe harbour, an impetus was given for the development of ship building and seamanship. The boundless energy of the people of Skiathos, the harsh way of life and the cooperative spirit (the crews had a share in the profits) helped to develop shipping.

Around 1920 the Skiathos shipowner Thomas N. Epifaneiadis, a scion of an old family of scholars, a trailblazing and daring man, paved the way for steam shipping. He set up his own shipping companies in Piraeus which continued in operation until the end of the Second World War, when he found himself without ships as everything had been lost during the hostilities.

In 1949 the Greek state, in collaboration with America and Greek shipowners, managed to acquire 100 Liberty ships and 7 oil tankers. Three of the Liberty ships were given to Thomas N. Epifaneiadis as compensation for the loss of his vessels.

After the War, Skiathos’ occupation with shipping was rekindled and the economy flourished between 1950 and 1990.

The Skiathos Maritime and Culture Tradition Museum was founded in 2015 and is housed in the Skiathos Cultural Centre Bourtzi. The exhibits narrate the long shipbuilding tradition of the Skiathos shipyards, which helped the development of Skiathos’ sailed-powered merchant shipping before the 19th century, as well as its subsequent development with ocean-going steam ships.

The permanent collection consists of more than 600 exhibits, including ship building tools, plans, and accounts for sail boat construction in the shipyards, representations of the work of traditional shipwrights, a rare collection of ship models, as well as paintings of Skiathos sail boats dating to the end of the 19th century.

 In the section of the exhibition which documents seafaring, there are nautical charts, navigational instruments and log books (for the bridge, the engine room and the radio room), diplomas for officers and crew, a complete reconstruction of the bridge from a Liberty ship, models of ships of the Greek Navy, as well as a small display dedicated to the submarine ‘Katsonis’ which sank off Skiathos in 1943.

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